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Youth activists hold ‘National Day of Remembrance’ to honor Martial Law victims

The League of Filipino Students (LFS), one of the country’s most storied youth groups, on its 41st anniversary honored the victims and martyrs of the Martial Law in a forum at the University of the Philippines Tuesday, September 11.

Present at the forum were Nanette Castillo of RISE UP, Prof. Sarah Raymundo of No Erasures No Revisions, LFS alumnus Nathanael Santiago and Datu Tungig Mansumuy-at of Salugpongan Mindanao who compared their struggles during Marcos’ martial law to current President Rodrigo Duterte’s own tyranny.

Also present were Bonifacio Ilagan, Danilo dela Fuente and Carmencitta Caragdag who were martial law survivors.

Danilo dela Fuente, a martial law survivor and vice chairperson of SELDA (Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto) said that, “The 41st anniversary of the LFS is a manifestation that what we fought for as members of the Kabataang Makabayan during the martial law, after 41 years have passed, still continues through the LFS.”

“Our history and struggles during the martial law should not be forgotten. All the experiences and practices we had will serve as lesson on how the youth today must face the Duterte dictatorship,” dela Fuente added.

According to Kara Taggaoa, LFS national spokesperson, “The organization was established during the Marcos regime when students’ right to organize was repressed. Now that we are again facing another dictator in Malacanang, LFS’s commitment is to continue to fight for people and students democratic rights.”

Current LFS members held a protest activity and welcomed leaders of indigenous peoples group in front of the university’s Palma Hall after the forum to start a series of activities called “9 Days of Remembering and Rage: Remembering Martial Law, Rage Against Tyranny” that will culminate on the anniversary of Marcos’ declaration of martial rule on September 21. (Report and photos by Maricon Montajes)

UP educators, alumni and students condems Imee Marcos and Kabataang Barangay Reunion at UP

Naglunsad ng press conference ang No Revisions, No Erasures: Educators Against the Rehabilitation of the Marcoses upang kundenahin ang ginanap ika-43 anibersaryo ng Kabataang Barangay sa UP Bahay ng Alumni noong Agosto 25, 2018 kung saan panauhing pandangal si Rep. Imee Marcos.

Sinagot din ng alyansa ang mga pahayag ni UP President Danilo Concepcion sa kanyang pagdalo sa nasabing pagtitipon at ang pahayag ng administrasyon ng UP tungkol sa pagpapahintulot na magamit ni Imee Marcos at Kabataang Barangay ang mga pasilidad ng UP. (Video by Maricon Montajes)

 

UP launches Jess Santiago’s book ‘Usapang Kanto’

Jess Santiago, iconic progressive singer and multi-awarded poet, sings one of his most beloved songs “Laging Ikaw” at the launch of his book “Usapang Kanto” at the University of the Philippines Main Library last August 28.

A collection of ‘Koyang’ Jess’ columns in various publications written as poems, the book contains about 200 pieces that comments on important social issues at the time of their writing.

“Usapang Kanto” was among the several books launched by UP’s Sentro ng Wikang Filipino as part of its observance of Buwan ng Wika this month. (Video by Raymund B. Villanueva with Joseph Cuevas)

No free tuition yet under Duterte, students say

Majority of University of the Philippines (UP) students will still be asked to pay matriculation fees despite the Rodrigo Duterte government’s announcement of an additional P8.3 billion funding to make tuition free in state universities and colleges (SUCs) next school year.

This is according to CHED and the Department of Budget and Management’s (DBM) April 20 Joint Memorandum setting implementing rules and regulations and prioritizing students who could benefit from the program, UP student leaders said in a dialogue with university officials Friday.

The government’s free tuition policy shall only benefit few SUC students based on their families’ socio-economic status and academic standing, they added.

Last Thursday, UP launched its online Student Financial Assistance (SFA) project to align its policies with the joint memorandum from its P367 allocation.

UP said the SFA shall accept student applications for the free tuition program which shall then match the students’ financial needs with multiple financial support and packages into a so-called comprehensive financial support for applicants.

Under the program, students may apply for the Free Tuition Policy (FTP) where recipients of Student Financial Assistance Programs (STFAP) and beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) are prioritized,

Students deemed unqualified under the FTP may apply for the Socialized Tuition System (STS), a bracket-based tuition system that measures a student’s capacity to pay based on socioeconomic factors.

Anti-student scheme

UP Student Regent Raoul Manuel slammed the scheme, saying it is “diametrically opposed to and contrary to the spirit of making tuition free for all.”

Manuel questioned the huge profit the university has collected from students from tuition and other school fees, saying the university under-declared its actual tuition collection of around P900-million, excluding income from other school charges.

He said the cash balance of the university has ballooned from P5.5-billion in 1999 to P12-billion by 2015 kept as part of the university’s revolving fund.

“With such a huge amount in the coffers of UP, we find no justification for the continued collection of fees except for the extraction of further profits from the students,” Manuel said.

Concepcion for his part said the university’s incomes are bound by legal processes.

“Ang pera na yan, earmarked, [at] naka-indicate kung paano gagastusin,” Concepcion explained.

Concepcion said the SFA aims to capture data in case President Rodrigo Duterte vetoes the Affordable Higher Education for All Act, which aims to provide full tuition subsidy for students in state universities and colleges (SUCs).

Gusto naming makita kung sino yung magqu-qualify para mai-budget na natin yung perang hawak natin,” Concepcion said.

SFA also includes various financial aid, including donor-funded grants and presidential scholarships, he said.

According to Concepcion, scholarships and grants automatically becomes stipend for recipients once Duterte signs the bill.

He added that the university will ask for a supplemental budget from the government to cover other school fees since the allotted budget for UP only covers tuition.

Pangako ko naman sa inyo na hahanap tayo ng paraan,” Concepcion said. “’Di niyo ako kalaban dito. I will do all my best to make education free,” he added.

The student-administration dialogue coincided with the National Day of Walkout, where students gathered outside Quezon Hall in UP Diliman to commemorate Duterte’s first year in office and call for the end of tuition collection.

Genuine free education

Despite the administration’s promises, however, the students vowed to stay critical and to strengthen their call for free education.

The students also denounced the real nature of the Rodrigo Duterte government’s so-called free tuition program in only select SUCs and courses around the country.

Ang malinaw ay hindi tiyak na magkakaroon ng libreng edukasyon sa kanya,” Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in UP (STAND UP) Chairperson Almira Abril said.

Ngayon kailangan nating pag-igtingin ang ating mga panawagan, dahil ang magbibigay sa atin ng libreng edukasyon ay yung social pressure na kayang i-create ng malalaking pagkilos na ikakasa ng kabataan,” she added. # (Denver del Rosario of UP-CMC for Kodao Productions / Featured photo by Gabby Endona)

UP students slam ‘repressive’ enrollment policies

YOUTH activist groups protested at the University of the Philippines (UP) yesterday to condemn its administration for imposing “repressive” policies that force students to undergo “very difficult” enrollment procedures.

Students of the national university slammed what they call an enrollment fiasco brought by the “failure” of the new online registration systems launched by UP’s Alfredo Pascual administeation.

Glitches marred the supposedly “easier” registration, forcing hundreds of students to camp out last Saturday night, July 30, at UP’s Los Baños campus to enlist in subjects.

UP’s “No Late Payment” policy, the failure of the eUP and the Student Academic Information System (SAIS) projects, and the Socialized Tuition System are brought by the increasing commercialization of education in the university, UP Student Regent Raoul Manuel said.

“Nakikita natin na itong pagpapabaya ng UP admin, ang kanilang pag-prioritize sa kita ay nag-ta-translate sa maraming problema para sa mga estudyante,” Manuel said.

SAIS is part of the P752-million eUP project, the flagship program of the university administration.

In partnership with the US-made database computer software Oracle, the Pascual administration said the project aims to integrate all the information and communication systems across all UP constituent units.

SAIS has been rolled out in the Los Baños, Manila and Baguio campuses, while its implementation in other units is still pending.

Manuel questioned the “dubious” cost of implementing such systems that may give rise to budget misappropriations.

“Paraan ito ng pag-privatize ng mga basic student services at isang paraan ng korapsyon sa administrasyon,” Manuel said.

“Parang wala nang pinagkaiba ang UP na dating nanawagan laban sa pork barrel ng national government dahil sa ganito ka-grande na proyekto na hindi naman para sa interes ng mga estudyante at mga sektor ng UP community,” he said.

No late payment

Enrolment in UP Diliman also saw long lines and frayed nerves as hallways near enrollment centers are choked with long lines of students clutching forms, hoping for slots in classes.

“Dalawang araw palang ang enrollment, pero ang dami nang problema ng mga estudyante,” USC Councilor and Basic Student Services Head Donn Bernal said.

Bernal said the revived “No Late Payment” policy imposed an August 5 deadline, the last day of registration, for students to pay matriculation fees.

Students who cannot pay are forced to avail of the university’s student loan program instead.

UP suspended the policy in 2013 following the death of UP Manila student Kristel Tejada who committed suicide after her failure to pay enrollment fees.

Bernal urged the administration to resolve the lack of class slots that forces students to camp out as early as 6 PM of the preceding night for class slots.

On August 2, a dialogue between UP Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan and representatives from the UP Diliman USC discussed the possibility of junking the policy.

The dialogue resolved that students may pay beyond the deadline as long as they submit a letter to the Chancellor signed by their respective college secretaries.

“STS: Socialized Tuition Scam”

UPD USC Chairperson Bryle Leaño reiterated their demand to junk the Socialized Tuition System (STS) being implemented in UP and various state universities.

“Nailatag na natin sa matagal na panahon na itong STS ay pagkamal ng kita mula sa mga iskolar ng bayan,” Leaño said.

He explained that the P400 million profit from the “Socialized Tuition Scam” is kept as part of UP’s so-called revolving fund instead of being used for better student services.

Josiah Hiponia, Chairperson of the Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in UP (STAND UP), said that the revolving fund is also used to fund more commercialization schemes of the university administration.

“Ang kinukuha nilang kita sa atin ay pinapagpagawa ng mga pasilidad na mas humu-huthot pa ng kita sa mga estudyante,” he said.

Hiponia cited the newly-built Acacia Dormitory that was constructed from the revolving fund.

Instead of providing inexpensive and sufficient student housing, UP charges P3,000 per month to students exclusive of electricity and other charges, she said.

Bigger picture

Anakbayan, for its part, said that the education commercialization and deregulation policies are reflections of the rampant commercialization of basic social services in the country.

“May dalawang layunin ang pag-privatize ng basic social services sa bansa. Una, ay abandunahin ang serbisyo para sa mamamayan gaya ng edukasyon ng mga kabataan at, pangalawa, ay ang pagkamal ng kita para sa mga sariling kapakinabangan,” Kenji Muramatsu of Anakbayan UPD said.

Leaño urged students to “stay strong” and join the upcoming series of protests.

“Huwag nating sukuan ang Unibersidad ng Pilipinas. Huwag nating sukuan ang Unibersidad ng Bayan. This is UP, this is our university, kaya naman sama-sama tayong kikilos at sama-sama tayong magtatagumpay,” Leaño said. (Report and photo by Mikhaela Dimpas of UP CMC for Kodao Productions)